The Board of Directors of Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club undertook some weeks ago to adopt a more open policy of communication with our staff, shareholders and supporters. We understand that sharing of some changes and updates has not been effective and we take full responsibility for this shortfall; this remains a key objective as the Club moves forward. It is clear the lack of regular information updates from the Board continues to fuel speculation and concern amongst some of our supporters and the media.
The Club experienced many significant changes in recent months from disappointment at relegation, changes in Club leadership and management, reduction in income and expenditure, vastly different budget needs and internal controls, a new first team football manager and several changes in the team with players moving in and out of the Club. This amount of change is a challenge for everyone involved, but if we are to have a sustainable business, we all need to adapt and move forward.
The Board would like to acknowledge the contribution of Willie Finlayson who as Chairman, continues to provide transitional leadership and consultation between the past, current and new Board members. At the time of his appointment, Willie advised the Board that his tenure as Chairman was not intended to be long term, and he has now subsequently confirmed that he will step down at the end of this month. The Board has subsequently met and are pleased to confirm that Graham Rae will succeed Willie as Chairman of the Club. A separate announcement with more specific information will follow.
Following relegation, we required to stabilise the business and for that reason, as we are sure you will appreciate, there was a need for some confidentiality. We recognise that everyone would have wished for more openness to start immediately, but had that happened it would certainly have undermined our work and would have been counter-productive to stabilising the business. That said, we do recognise that an update would be welcomed by our loyal supporters and we can therefore advise on the following:
Financial Position of the Club
The Board considered it necessary that the Club undertake a financial health check before starting the new season. We instructed the club’s accountants to undertake this task. The results identified some gaps and opportunities for improvement, and steps were taken quickly to address this situation. We are pleased to report that by the end of September this year, the Club will have secured £500,000 of new investment, which will be fully utilized towards addressing past and current financial shortfalls. The Business Plan for the current year is now one which has passed a financial robustness check from our accountants.
No players were budgeted to be sold to release funds and this included Ross Draper. The Club dearly wanted to have been able to retain Ross’s services but recognised that his wish was to return to being able to play in the Scottish Premiership.
However, as your Board, it is important that we are truthful and always act with the best interests of the Club as a priority. There are many challenges ahead and therefore, to safeguard our financial position, everyone connected with the Club should be aware that we cannot spend more than we earn, and that careful and effective fiscal management is critical for the realisation of our business and footballing goals.
We have been pleased by the sale of season tickets (currently totalling 1453) and thank everyone sincerely for their support. It would of course be great for our existing supporters to encourage their friends to support the Club by purchasing season tickets.
The Tulloch Group very generously offered in December 2016 to gift the Stadium and Stands back to the Club, write off arrears of rent that had accumulated and ensure we could move forward on a rent-free basis. The Board have been heavily engaged with Tulloch and their advisers over the last 6 weeks to put the necessary contracts in place to give effect to this gift and to ensure we have a fully functioning Stadium available for football but also all the other commercial income generating activities that support the Club. We anticipate that contracts will be signed by the end of September 2017.
Leadership and Management Appointments
The Board is fully committed to the Club and collectively, our Directors have considerable management knowledge in the business and commercial world, as well as being lifelong supporters, shareholders and season ticket holders of the Club. The Board continues to work on many critical and change related items.
We have appointed Danny MacDonald as Chief Operating Officer. Danny has the total respect of the Board, management team and the staff. Uniquely he has great football experience combined with excellent communication and business skills and is brimming with new ideas and focus to reinvigorate the club at all levels.
John Robertson as first team football manager is approaching his job with enthusiasm and energy. We have ensured that we retained the services of the football management team (Brian Rice and Scott Kellacher) who, together with John provide a formidable professional team guiding the players on what we all recognise will be a tough journey.
Extra-ordinary General Meeting – we called this to ensure that the unissued share capital of the Club can be made available to new investors quickly. We took the opportunity at that meeting to have a “question and answer” session led by Danny and John, which was well received by those who attended. We took note of the feedback and are working on turning the talk into walk.
This is a fantastic Club with a proud history and devoted supporters. We know that relegation does not sit well with anyone involved in this Club. Re-building has begun in earnest but there is still more to do, with everyone having recognized that we have had a challenging start to the season. As a Board, we are fortunate to have amazing and talented employees and volunteers to help drive the Club forward.
The Board acknowledges that some of our season ticket holders are upset and there are many issues to ‘fix’, which have appeared over the last few years; these include embracing feedback and better use of learnings to drive improvement, a more effective media and communications strategy, improved catering and commercial initiatives, a more inclusive, family oriented community Club, etc. It is the objective of the Board to address these matters, but these challenges require to be undertaken carefully and with a sensible strategy.
Meantime, we all dearly wish that a spirit of support and unity can start to regenerate among everyone who supports the desire to restore the Club to its rightful position at the heart of the Inverness community and delivering entertaining football on Saturday at the Stadium.
We are in the final stages of planning an “ICTFC Open Night” where season ticket holders can meet the Board of Directors and our Leadership and Football Management teams. The evening meeting will take place later this month and more information on date, time and venue will be forthcoming. In order that our season ticket holders and supporters are better informed and kept up to date, we will continue to issue statements on key developments as well as regular newsletters. These will outline our plans and chart our progress on the challenging journey ahead. We hope that we can all support each other in this rebuilding exercise and look back on this challenge as one we faced head on and that we overcame together.
Our goal is to be back in the Scottish Premiership playing great football and competing for honours. The Board is committed to adopting a sustainable business model that makes the Club more resilient, that develops and mentors our internal talent and earns the trust of our supporters.
As ever, we welcome any constructive ideas that you may have to help us and if you wish to contact us in that regard, please do so.
Willie Finlayson, Alan McPhee
Allan Mackenzie, David Cameron
Graham Rae, Ken Thomson
Board of Directors
Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club